NAIROBI, Kenya, March 4 (UPI) -- Kenya backed a proposal by Japan's Toyota Tsusho Corp. to build an 870-mile crude oil pipeline from South Sudan to the Lamu port in the Indian Ocean.
Southern Sudan holds about 75 percent of the 6.3 billion barrels of proven reserves of crude oil in the country. Existing pipelines carry oil to the north, leaving the south without options.
Toyota Tsusho Corp., in a briefing on the project in Nairobi, said the $1.5 billion project could carry as much as 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
The project would expand Sudan's export options and give southern secessionists much-needed oil revenue. It would also reduce the need for ruling authorities in the south to cooperate with their northern counterparts should South Sudan vote for independence in 2011, the Sudan Tribune reports.
South Sudanese officials said, however, that they would need to cooperate briefly with the north following secession in order to prevent an economic meltdown.
Both Sudanese governments split oil revenue under the terms of a 2005 peace accord. The Kenyan government is said to approve of the project.
Toyota would hand the project over to the South Sudanese and Kenya governments within 20 years.